Mubarak back in Test squad for Pakistan series
Jehan Mubarak has made a comeback to the Sri Lanka Test squad after nearly eight years, for the upcoming home series against Pakistan. Three younger players were also included in the 16-man squad: offspinner Tharindu Kaushal, uncapped fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera and left-handed batsman Kusal Perera.
Fast bowler Shaminda Eranga was not considered because of a back injury while Suranga Lakmal's inclusion will depend on the speed of his recovery from a groin complaint.
Mubarak, 34, last played a Test in 2007 and was in firm contention for a place in the Test squad after scoring over 1000 domestic runs in each of the two past seasons, and averaging 81.78 in the Premier League Tournament since the beginning of 2014. His fielding recently also caught the eye of Jonty Rhodes during the former South African's 10-day training camp in Sri Lanka.
Chameera, 23, and Kaushal, 22, had made their international debuts during the tour to New Zealand in December and January, before appearing together in the World Cup quarter final against South Africa. Kaushal's selection is reward for three successful years in domestic and A team cricket, while Chameera has been picked largely on the promise of his pace. Kusal Perera, meanwhile, slammed his way into Test contention during Pakistan A's recent tour, in which he struck four centuries, an 87, and a 90, in the space of seven innings. Kithuruwan Vithanage, 24, earns a recall to the Test squad thanks to his good performances in the same tour.
The three youngsters will have to displace more senior players to earn a spot in the XI however. Offspinner Dilruwan Perera, who had an encouraging start to his Test career in 2014, is Kaushal's major rival for a place, with Rangana Herath almost certain to play. Chameera meanwhile, will likely queue behind Nuwan Pradeep and Dhammika Prasad for his spot.
Kusal Perera is in a crush for middle order positions with other younger batsmen, including Dinesh Chandimal and Vithanage, as well as Mubarak. Lahiru Thirimanne continues in his role as vice captain.
This first national team selection from the committee headed by Kapila Wijegunawardene suggests Sri Lanka's quest for youth and regeneration will continue in their tenure. Overlooked for this squad were the likes of Upul Tharanga, 30, and Prasanna Jayawardene, 35.
Sri Lanka will host Pakistan for three Tests, starting with the first one on June 17 in Galle, followed by the second in Colombo and third in Pallekele before the ODIs and T20Is.
Test squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Lahiru Thirimanne (vice-captain), Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Kithruwan Vithanage, Jehan Mubarak, Kusal Perera, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Tharindu Kaushal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhammika Prasad, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal (subject to fitness).